His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios’ message on the beginning of the new Ecclesiastical Year

“If you perform righteousness, then the day becomes good to you; if you perform sin, then it will be evil and full of retribution. If you contemplate these things, and are so disposed, you will consider the whole year favorable, performing prayers and charity every day…” – St. John Chrysostom

 

Happy New Year! On September 1, we begin the new Ecclesiastical Year, for unlike the secular world, the Church follows a different calendar, the pattern of nature and natural life. In the ancient world, after the harvest was gathered and stored, the people would prepare themselves for the beginning of a new cycle, a new year. Although we no longer follow an agricultural calendar, for many of us, this is the beginning of the academic year as well, and a time to initiate our ministries and programs once more in our parishes, after summer vacations.  We enter a new year, filled with new decisions, new joys, new challenges, and new opportunities.

This new Ecclesiastical Year belongs to God, Who in in His infinite grace and wisdom has graciously given us the gift of time to seek Him.  Thus the new Ecclesiastical Year gives us a wonderful opportunity to examine our personal and spiritual lives, with honesty and sincerity. Sometimes we may despair, as we look back over the previous year, and realize that we have made very little progress. The same habitual sins and problems may beset us from year to year.

The message of the new year is that “with God all things are possible.’ We can resolve that this year will be different, better than last year. We can resolve to leave behind bad habits or excuses, commit ourselves to spiritual growth and resolve to immerse ourselves more fully in the life of the Church, availing ourselves of its resources: worship, prayer, fasting, charity, the Holy Scriptures, and the Lives of the Saints. As St. Paul reminds us, “let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

So today, with the new Ecclesiastical Year, let us remember God, without Whom nothing good can be done (John 15:5) and beseech Him to hear our prayers, so that we may journey through the coming year, with hope, trust and thanksgiving. May He guide and protect us in the coming year and always as we strive to bear faithful witness to Christ. May He comfort us in sorrow and difficulty and strengthen us for the challenges that lie ahead. May His grace be the source of all that we do in His Name!

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